Not unexpectedly, J. K. is once again the world’s best paid author for the year. Her staggering $95 million trumps James Patterson’s $87 million, and as you know, he is not one author but the head of a large team of ghosts. But hang on, did J. K. even write a book in the last year?
This is the problem with these lists. Like the BBC pay chart, it’s not all that fair. Patterson makes money from other people’s writing. Rowling makes money from films and plays, not just books. So she isn’t the top author by any fair assessment. Such a scale would show only their earnings from words actually written by them and published in book form.
Digging deeper, it turns out Rowling did publish a book, but it was only the script of the play. It is most probably the best selling play script in the history of the universe. I can count the number of scripts on my bulging shelves on the fingers of one hand.
It is the third placed author who caught our attention. None other than that literary giant, the Wimpy Kid. Nothing to do with burger chains either, although he probably eats them sometimes. Dan Brown, having written utter tripe for years, makes it to fourth place. Anyway, that is largely due to an advance against a book yet to be published.
The other British writers to make the list, you will not be surprised to learn, are E. L. James and Girl On A Train’s Paula Hawkins. That these are all women, even if two of them hide their womanhood, is cause for celebration. Unless you’re a male author.
No prizes for expecting to see Stephen King. He’s in fifth, closely followed by that other 1980s holdout John Grisham. The main drawback in all of this money is not that all of the ten writers are shameless genre mongers, which is probably to be expected. It is that all of them have been around so damned long.
Where are the new big budget thriller writers? Today is your day to pick up that typewriter and goddamned write the hell out of it.